For Sunday morning politics show followers, yesterday’s critiques of Israel’s actions and of the neoconservatives in America were heartening.
On both This Week with George Stephanopoulos and Fox News Sunday, two important pundits — one a stalwart conservative and the other a confirmed liberal — attacked Bill Kristol and the neoconservatives for their bleating for an American war against Iran, as response to what is unfolding around Israel.
The Juan Williams episode has been posted by Think Progress.
You can watch the segment by clicking here, but here is the Fox News Sunday transcript:
KRISTOL: Look, our coddling of Iran — if I can use the neutral term like that — over the last six to nine months has emboldened them. I mean, is Iran behaving like a timid regime that’s very worried about the U.S.? Or is Iran behaving recklessly and in a foolhardy way?
WALLACE: But isn’t that the result of what’s happened in Iraq?
KRISTOL: No, it’s a result of our deducing from the situation in Iraq that we can’t stand up to Iran. I mean, when we stand up over and over and say Iran is shipping Improvised Explosive Devices into Iraq and killing U.S. soldiers, and Syria’s providing a line for terrorists to come into Iraq and kill U.S. soldiers, and that’s unacceptable. That’s not helpful. And then we do nothing about it. When Ahmadinejad says provocative things, continues to ship arms to Hezbollah, and we say, okay, maybe now we’ll give you direct talks.
That, unfortunately, that weakness has been provocative. Ahmadinejad feels emboldened. Now we need to show him, and I think the administration has done a good job the last couple of days of showing him, that he miscalculated. And indeed, this is a great opportunity. I think our weakness, unfortunately, invited this aggression, but this aggression is a great opportunity to begin resuming the offensive against the terrorist groups. Israel is fighting four of our five enemies in the Middle East, in a sense. Iran, Syria, sponsors of terror; Hezbollah and Hamas.
Al Qaeda doesn’t seem to be involved. We have to take care of them in Iraq. This is an opportunity to begin to reverse the unfortunate direction of the last six to nine months and get the terrorists and the jihadists back on the defensive.
WILLIAMS: Well, it just seems to me that you want. . you just want war, war, war, and you want us in more war. You wanted us in Iraq. Now you want us in Iran. Now you want us to get into the Middle East, where I think there’s a real interesting dynamic at play. I think it’s psychological on the part of Israel and many of its supporters, and I’ll throw you in here. Somehow you see Israel as weak, and you see Ehud Olmert as weak —
WALLACE: He’s the new prime minister —
WILLIAMS: The new prime minister of Israel. And the defense minister as weak. Everybody is weak in the aftermath of Sharon, and so everybody has to prove what a man they are in the Middle East, including — you’re saying, why doesn’t the United States take this hard, unforgiving line? Well, the hard and unforgiving line has been, we don’t talk to anybody. We don’t talk to Hamas. We don’t talk to Hezbollah. We’re not going to talk to Iran. Where has it gotten us, Bill?
George Will let loose on Kristol in a similar way during a discussion between George Stephanopoulos, Cokie Roberts, Sam Donaldson, and Fareed Zakaria on This Week. (Podcast audio of the show available here).
In reaction to the editorial that William Kristol penned this week in the Weekly Standard titled “It’s Our War” which advocates initiation of war against Iran, George Will remarked about Kristol and the neocons: “The most magnificently misnamed neoconservatives are the most radical people in this town.”
George Will goes on to comment that America has its hands full with Iraq and that Iraq may, in fact, get worse because of the flare-up around Israel.
George Will and Juan Williams together on something. The White House should take note.
Bill Kristol is dead wrong that what is unfolding around Israel is “our war”. It could be called “our challenge”, and it has been for a very long time — but the U.S. has been missing in action and has invested little in working to broker arrangements that would isolate militant extremists and promote legitimacy among moderates. American absence from the region has left an environment in which the extremist elements on all sides are vying to control the temperature of the region.
America has no choice but to be involved — and that means if Israel responds disproportionately to a threat, crisis, and even an incursion — then America can’t just shrug off the situation. Kristol wants this to be “our war”; well long ago, it should have been “our peace”. We are now paying a price for half-way involvement and the impression among many in the region that the U.S. does not have a balanced hand in the region.
America has no choice but to engage soon because a regional, full-scale war runs the risk of escalating in ways that will substantially undermine key American interests in the region. The problem is that our involvement and even the fuller attention of Europe and the G-8 do not assure that this conflict can be easily bottled. Bad forces are out — and it’s going to be very hard for whatever reasonable-tilting moderates in Fatah and even Hamas to contain their radicals.
And Hezbollah, a 1.4 million person movement, got a gift from Israel with the broad-based, innocents-killing bombing campaign that was unleashed.
Hezbollah, like Fareed Zakaria has aptly stated, needs to be dealt with politically and delegitmated in the eyes of Lebanese. Israel has just bolstered Hezbollah’s legitimacy to levels that will now take a long time and significant effort to erode.
— Steve Clemons